Those of you who have been following my progress over the past year will know that I’ve been following a diet that I knitted together after years of struggle. Many of you have tried it yourselves with amazing results. To date I’ve lost 36 pounds in 13 months.
More of a lifestyle than a diet, I’ve found it easy to live with and I’ve also noticed that minor health niggles I used to live with have disappeared too. They include permanently flaking nails, dry skin, aches and pains in my legs and feet, constipation and headaches. All gone. And I haven’t had a cold for a whole year despite being under considerable stress and emotional pain. For me, the diet has been a sort of panacea; it has flicked a switch – in my body and in my brain – that has increased the flow of energy and allowed me to feel better than I can remember.
I called it The Dissident Diet because the theory behind the diet involves being in lipolysis and using the power of ketosis and that – until very recently – has been a controversial issue. Doctors have for a long time considered ketosis to be an unnatural, even dangerous, biochemical state.
Just lately, however, I’ve noticed a groundswell in the discussion of low carb diets in the treatment of other health issues – not just obesity. The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a review in June looking at the therapeutic use of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets beyond the realms of weight loss. I’ve reproduced the abstract here because I think you will find it interesting:
Very-low-carbohydrate diets or ketogenic diets have been in use since the 1920s as a therapy for epilepsy and can, in some cases, completely remove the need for medication. From the 1960s onwards they have become widely known as one of the most common methods for obesity treatment. Recent work over the last decade or so has provided evidence of the therapeutic potential of ketogenic diets in many pathological conditions, such as diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, acne, neurological diseases, cancer and the amelioration of respiratory and cardiovascular disease risk factors. The possibility that modifying food intake can be useful for reducing or eliminating pharmaceutical methods of treatment, which are often lifelong with significant side effects, calls for serious investigation. This review revisits the meaning of physiological ketosis in the light of this evidence and considers possible mechanisms for the therapeutic actions of the ketogenic diet on different diseases. The present review also questions whether there are still some preconceived ideas about ketogenic diets, which may be presenting unnecessary barriers to their use as therapeutic tools in the physician’s hand.
I’d be a very poor scientist because I tend to make up my mind about things before they can be proven. On the other hand, if we waited for theories to be proved beyond scientific doubt before acting on them a lot of lives would be lost, and not many pounds. These are pre-clinical data and by no means mainstream medical advice but this is one of many articles I’ve read extolling the value of ketosis.
So this is me nailing my colours to the mast: during the last 2 years, I’ve become increasingly convinced that carbohydrates are playing havoc with our national biochemistry. Not only through obesity, but other health epidemics too: diabetes, cancer, heart disease, mental illness, PCOS, endometriosis may have their roots in a fundamental macronutrient imbalance. The funny thing is, it’s almost too simple to credit. Forget statins, and aspirin and metformin; hold the chemo and radiotherapy, heart surgery and gastric bands; bypass Slimfast and Weightwatchers, bigger ambulances and airline seats, outsize clothing shops and horrible, voyeuristic fatty-bashing TV! What if the whole health mess we’ve landed ourselves in is down to the excessive consumption of carbs in our diet? What if restricting carbs could solve the health problems of a huge percentage of us, leaving only those who have got something medically, genetically wrong with them? What if the level of disease in the population plummeted enabling the health service to function at a sustainable level?
I’ve never been more convinced that our nation’s health problems stem from the diet we consume: even when we’re doing our best to eat healthily. Sadly the healthy, wholefood message has reached a zenith, meaning that even our supermarkets are bent on promoting high levels of complex whole grain carbohydrates together with unsustainable levels of fruit consumption in all sorts of guises (fruit juices, smoothies, compotes, sweetened yoghurts etc) as an essential component of a healthy diet. Popular health information is always about 5 to 10 years behind the leading edge.
With wonderful charities like Macmillan promoting the worldwide coffee morning by focussing on cake and asking you to text the word SUGAR to receive your information pack, I fear we have a very long way to go before the rest of the world realises that sugar may actually be the one thing that people dealing with cancer should avoid above all else. Sigh.
This discussion, OK, rant, is my way of telling you that I no longer see weight loss and critical illness as separate issues. I view them as problems in the same spectrum: physical failures in our homeostatic mechanisms brought on by hormonal malfunctions caused by prolonged misuse of carbohydrates. Which means I will no longer be running a blog for weight loss and another for general health. They will all be under the same banner. And I will be working with all my clients to ensure an appropriate level of carbohydrate consumption – which will of course differ from one body to another.
If you’d like to know more about working with your brain and body to achieve an exciting state of wellbeing then let’s connect.